The Pitfall Facing the Cool Japan Project: The Transnational Development of the Anime Industry under the Condition of Post-Fordism


  • This essay is partly based on my Japanese essay, Mōri (2009), though it is modified as the focus is different.

  • This research was partially supported by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) 2008–2010, 20530454 and (B) 2011-, 23330156.


This paper examines the way in which the anime industry has developed since the mid-1960s, by looking at transnational production systems and the international division of labor. First, it tries to demonstrate that anime, though seen both as a cultural product originating from Japan and as an export within the recent Cool Japan project promoted by the Japanese government, has, from the beginning of its history, been a very hybridized product due to the transnational production system, in particular among Japan, Korea and China. Second, the paper also shows how this transnational production system has led to the lasting poor labor conditions suffered by Japanese animators, one of the prototypes for freeters in the 1990s. Third, by examining the anime promotion policy led by the Chinese government, I would like to discuss the possible future of anime production systems in the age of digital production in Asia.